A grandmother who dreamed of downsizing to a modern bungalow with her husband ended up homeless and was forced to return to work when their plans took a disastrous turn.
Pauline, 55, a retired journalist and her husband Godfrey, 62, a writer and theatre director, featured on last night’s episode of Grand Designs: The Street, where they revealed their plans move into a factory-built modular home.
The couple who took part in the experiment, which sees couples self-build their own homes on a street near Bicester, Oxford, hoped to fund their project by selling their four-bedroom home, and had an initial budget of £220,000.
However, the sale of their home didn’t raise as much capital as they’d hoped, and they spent a year applying for mortgages – only to be continuously rejected.
They were forced into renting a house nearby, which ate into their budget for the build and Pauline had no choice but to come out of retirement, saying: ‘I’ll have to work till I drop.’
Godfrey was devastated, admitting: ‘It’s cost us more than £20,000 in rent and storage. I wish it hadn’t happened.’
The couple dream of building an easy and straight forward ‘modular’ home, but are hampered by financial difficulties
They’re finally able to complete their stunning home after a two year battle to get a mortgage forced Pauline back into work
Pauline and Godfrey lived in their family home in Southampton for 18 years, but they became eager to downsize after their daughter Ella grew up and left home.
They wanted to swap their four bedroom, three-storey home for a modern two bedroom bungalow that would be a third of the size.
Ella said: ‘We’ve loved it here, but we need to downsize. It’s a big four bedroom house, we don’t need this much space.
‘We have energy now, but we need to think about the future.’
Pauline and Godfrey were hampered by financial difficulties throughout their build, and at one stage were essentially homeless
Eager to have a straightforward build, the couple decided to opt for a factory-built modular home, consisting of three welded steel boxes.
It allowed them to decide every detail way ahead of construction, including flooring and paint colours, and would only take two months to put together in a factory.
Pauline said they had purposely chosen this kind of home as it gave them ‘peace of mind’.
‘Some people like to roll their hands up and get a bit dirty. That might be for some, but that’s not for us,’ she said.
‘We know how much it’s going to cost. All the internal details we’ve been going through with a stylist.’
The minimalist home was a downsizing effort from the couple, and was fully built in a factory before being transported and assembled on the site
The couple are able to move into the house three weeks after it was finally built on their plot in Gravenhill
The couple admitted they didn’t want to get their hands dirty – and opted for a build type which would allow them to watch their home being assembled by others
The couple were told that their home would be created in three stages – the first being creating a well-insulated base of four steel frames.
Stage two was the construction, walls, roof, floors and plush wood on the inside.
The third part involved settling and finishing of the building, with the kitchen, bathroom, light switches added to the property.
The modules would then be transported to site, and bolted together to make a home that is ready to live in in a matter of days.
The couple had planned to go for the modular system as they felt it was more ‘simple’ and would give them peace of mind. But they end up feeling stressed as they struggle to get a mortgage to start their build
Pauline is forced to return to full time work, despite retiring, in order for the couple to afford their home
Their plot is left empty for two years as they struggle to raise the capital they need to even start the build
The couple, who opted for the ‘easy’ modular build, found it stressful trying to get a mortgage and are hindered by the finances
The couple were thrilled by how easy it all seemed, but they were beset with financial difficulties before they even got the project off the ground.
Pauline was distraught, revealing: ‘It is hard. There have been times in the middle of the day when I just burst into tears.’
At first the couple rented a flat, while trying to get a mortgage to fund their build.
But later, unable to afford rent anymore, they decided to become ‘property guardians’ on a council estate at a property awaiting demolition.
They looked after a two bedroom flat, to ensure it was secure, for a minimal fee that was much cheaper than renting. To fulfill their property guardian status, they had to also volunteer in the local community.
As the couple moved in, Godfrey said he could not believe where they has ended up.
The couple hoped to enjoy their retirement in the dream home with their daughter Ella, above, and grandchild
It takes the couple two years to even begin construction on their property, as they struggle to raise the capital to build their home
He revealed: ‘It’s strange. Juxtaposing where we lived to where we are now. It feels like a steady fall.’
Months later, the couple were still awaiting a mortgage offer while living on the estate.
Concerned they would never be able to finish their build, they considered selling the plot of land.
Godfrey revealed: ‘It’s been made for our house and our dreams. It’s all in there. it would be devastating.’
After two years of trying, the couple have a mortgage approved and are able to go ahead with the build
In an attempt to make getting a mortgage a little easier, Pauline decided to go back to working full time.
She admitted: ‘This job came at the perfect time. I’ll have to work till I drop. But I’m taking each day at a time. Let’s see how we do.’
But after two years the couple finally had a mortgage approved, and their dream started to take shape.
Godfrey revealed:’ I finally feel I can breathe again. I never stopped believing in the project.’
The couple end up with a stunning white minimalist home, and are able to move in just three weeks after it was assembled on the site
The home, which is essentially made from three separate box-type parts, is a bright and airy house for the pair to live in
Their ‘factory built’ home was delivered in nine lorries and put together on the plot.
Godfrey and Pauline watched their new home arrive, with the help of a huge crane, with the grandfather admitting: ‘I always believed in the build.’
Three three weeks later, the couple moved into their stunning white minimalist home with its slick and stylish, bright and airy interiors.
They spent £60,000 more than they meant to – but were relieved to finally be in the home they’ve long dreamed of.
And though she has to continue to work full time, Pauline said: ‘This house encapsulates us. It is what we needed at this time and in this way.’
And while Pauline still has to work in order for the couple to pay off their house, they admit it’s a dream come true